Celebrated each May, New Zealand Music Month is being experienced in a different fashion this time around. With our enjoyment of music now being reduced to arenas that are our home’s four walls, music-related events have certainly seen a shake up. In honour of New Zealand Music Month, we’re celebrating the iconic fashion moments of Kiwi musos and the outfits that made or marked them in the past decade. From VNZMA debut outfits to just plain wonderful moments that celebrate local designers, we’ve found some of the best sartorial moments in recent local music history.
Lorde & James Lowe, 2013
Making her VNZMA debut in 2013, Lorde was the picture of edgy elegance in Zambesi. She elevated her signature sombre style in a fitted all black dress, with gently ruched long sleeves and a wide v-neck opening elegantly to highlight her decolletage and shoulders. The understated dark glamour carried through to the make-up, where a line of black liner and a dark plum pout beautifully contrasted with her ivory glow. Not only did this look wow on the red carpet, it worked beautifully onstage where she performed her hit single ‘Royals’ before walking away with four Tuis.
While we’re talking about stylish debuts at VNZMAs, we simply can’t go base Benee‘s 2019 first outing. Taking to the red carpet in an oversized Jimmy D gown over a thin jersey-knit long sleeve top, and a pair of black pants, Benee was a monochromatic showstopper. Paired with an electric blue streak of hair in her sleek bob, and black chunky shoes (which we hear are from back in the 90’s), she embodied a youthful take on grunge. Jimmy D was also the choice of wardrobe for her performance that night, where she once again looked incredible in a matching oversized pink swarovski t-shirt and pant ensemble. Safe to say these looks marked a moment in the young songstress’ career as she walked away with Tuis for the Best Solo Artist, Single of the Year, Best Pop Artist , Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
Julia Deans, 2017
A vision in lilac, Julia Deans graced the 2017 VNZMA red carpet in an elegant Carlson gown. True to the occasion this evening dress was special in many ways, having been shown on the iD runway in 2017 before taking to the VNZMA red carpet that November. Not only that, this one-off piece was made from a vintage fabric designer Tanya Carlson had acquired and had pleated in NZ. Paired with delicate gold earrings and styled with a simple, slicked back updo, the look was both feminine and striking. Talk about a special piece for a special occasion.
Jess B & Half Queen, 2019
We love a good shake up to evening and awards attire here at FashioNZ. There’s been no shortage of fun takes on athleisure and sportswear in this end of the 2000’s, however not all that much has made its way to the VNZMA red carpet. Jess B has since led the way and blessed us with a rendition of sportswear in 2019, where the classic sport suit jacket has taken the form of an evening top, with bell sleeves and a plunging neckline and waist crop. The traditional sweatpants were replaced with a high-waisted paper-bag pant style, that nipped in the waist beautifully. Half Queen also wore an outfit that was the first of its kind on VNZMA red carpets, wearing a Campbell Luke ensemble. Fresh off Campbell Luke’s debut NZFW show just months prior, this billowing linen piece was both understated yet memorable, and is hopefully the first of many of it’s kind to grace the event.
Another iconic outfit for a fitting occasion is Aaradhna’s billowing Zambesi number, worn at the 2016 VNZMAs. Flowing elegantly and freely like her tresses and adorned with a bold stack of elegant gold arm candy, this beautiful outfit marked more than a covetable red-carpet moment. At this awards show, she rejected her award for Best Urban/Hip Hop album for Brown Girl, passing it to hip hop newcomers Swidt. In a gripping speech about heritage and the meaning of her album, she made a statement on her feeling of stereotyping of the award categories, pointing that she feels like she’s “placed in the category of brown people”, bringing up a raft of questions and valid points. She later performed her hit single ‘Brown Girl’ to a standing ovation.
Sweet Mix Kids, 2019
Another iconic look from 2019’s VNZMAs was brought by the Sweet Mix Kids Duo who were dressed in monochromatic Trelise Cooper outfits in candy pink and bright red, respectively. An elongated tuxedo jacket and suit pants looked striking in the hot pink, especially paired next to an oversized shag coat in a siren red. Their accessories also worked perfectly to add a flamboyant, campy edge in the form of round sunnies, a structural hat, and of, course, a bouquet of roses touted around on a gold chain leash. As finalists for Best Electronic Artist, Sweet Mix Kids didn’t catch any awards that night, but rather the well-deserved attention and hearts of fashion lovers, that comes with a look of this calibre.
Hollie Smith, 2019
Bringing high octane glamour and edge to the 2019 VNZMA red carpet was Hollie Smith, who rocked a black, finel pleated Starving Artist’s Fund number (prior to a costume change for her moving performance with Teeks). With a high slit asymmetrical skirt and overlaid sash panel that draped over one shoulder, the look was equal parts sculptural and deconstructed. Giving it that extra edge was the addition of sky-high peep toe platform boots, and leather arm warmers — all in a deep charcoal tone, matching the dress. The finishing touch was a pop of colour and femininity in the form of floral hair accessories, which sat beautifully in her crown braid.
Stan Walker, 2018
Speaking of iconic suiting moments, Stan Walkers’ Zambesi suit from VNZMA 2018 is one for the records. Not only did Stan Walker take to the stage to co-host the 2018 event with Kanoa Lloyd, it also marked his recovery from a battle with cancer, which he had opened up about that early this year. Dressing as triumphantly as his return for the occasion, the singer chose Zambesi’s new season printed suit, fresh off the NZFW runway that had taken place in September, and paired it with a kahu huruhuru cloak.
Georgia Nott & Caleb Nott, Broods, 2014
Zambesi and red carpet glamour is a match made in an edgy heaven. Ruby and Liam, of course, is a match made for any formal occasion. Pairing the two together, however, is simply spectacular, as proven by Brood’s 2014 ensembles. We’ve seen many incredible looks from Zambesi awards’ and the brand’s inceptions, however florals and prints—as seen on Caleb’s vest—are a more rare, but incredibly welcomed addition as this look proves. Paired together with the delicate, floral Damask on Georgia’s Liam gown, the pair’s look embodies a dark, sultry yet powerful glamour.
Gin Wigmore, 2010
Embracing the under-wear as over-wear trend before it took hold in the mid 2010’s was Gin Wigmore with her custom Trelise Cooper VNZMA ensemble in 2010. Pairing lace-trimmed thigh high suspender stockings with a long, lacey bodice, it was hard not to miss this all black lingerie look. The blonde bombshell curls and tattoo also worked with the ensemble to give the look a ‘pin-up girl comes to life’. There’s no denying that Gin simply stole the show in 2010, scooping up four awards: Vodafone Album of the Year, Pacific Blue Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Best Pop Album, and Highest Selling NZ Album.
While we’re talking lace and legendary looks from Kiwi musos, we can’t go past mentioning Ladi6’s lacey 2014 ensemble. Created by WORLD, this look was nothing short of eye catching and elegant with its plunging neckline, figure-hugging fit and long train and sleeves. Adding an extra dose of mysterious elegance to the look was the beauty styling, where her raven locks were swept to one side, covering one eye while revealing a glamorous eyeliner style on the other.
With more ladies opting to stray from traditional awards dresses, we’ve been seeing more and more tailored suiting take to the VNZMA red carpet in recent times. One stand out moment was Lorde, who scooped up Album of the Year, Best Female Solo Artist and four other Tuis that night in a pale pink Stella McCartney Pantsuit and red Kate Sylvester bandeau top in 2014. A bold stray away from her more sombre hues, this look become something of a legacy for Lorde — as she later emulated the look with a pink suit and black crop top when performing “All Apologies” with the surviving members of Nirvana. The fabulous pantsuit choices didn’t stop there for Lorde. The look was given an ultra glam rendition for the Golden Globes 2015 with a custom jet black suit by Narcisco Rodriques, and a diamond-encrusted statement necklace.
2012 was Kimbra’s year. Not simply due to scooping up Tuis left right and centre, but for one of the best looks the VNZMA has seen. She looked simply dazzling in a short, sheer long-sleeved gown embellished with beading and textural flowers, paired with her signature voluminous bob and bright lip. It’s safe to say that the four Tui awards she picked up that year were perhaps the best accessory for this iconic outfit.
Tami Neilson, 2016
Another impossibly fabulous canary-coloured ensemble is Tami Neilson’s 2016 60’s style get up. Created by Curvy Couture by Judy Dee, this ensemble was rich in textures, with elements of satin, tassel fringing and feathering adding depth to the ensemble. Another eye-catching component was none other than Tami’s impossibly glamorous beehive. Styled sky high with a cascading curl side ponytail and not a hair out of place, this look stole the show in the most glamorous way possible.
Joe Irvine, 2015
No suit caused as much of a stir as Joe Irvine’s did. The then 25-year old contestant on New Zealand’s X Factor wore what can be described as the most talked-about suit in local music history, after receiving backlash from the since-disgraced judges, Natalia Kills and Willy Moon. With Natalia Kills insisting that this classic outfit and slicked-back hairstyle was a rip-off of her husband’s style, she and her suit-domineering husband got the boot. Joe and his navy suit, however, won the affection of the greater New Zealand public despite not going on to win the competition.